Dear Joe,

Thank you for responding to my inquiry into a hydroelectric generator on the East Race of the St Joe River in South Bend. I look forward to speaking with Beth Barrett in your South Bend office regarding energy grant opportunities for this project.

You noted in your letter that the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program has not yet been funded; I urge you to seek support for this. Please let me know if there is anyone else to whom I can write to help push this forward.

Another funding option could be a “green energy” up-charge on municipal water bills; those who can afford to pay an extra couple of dollars on their bill can check off a box and include this with their payment. Those who cannot afford this would not. This progressive “tax” seems to be effective in other communities seeking funding for alternative energy initiatives.

In considering this project, I have two requests. The first is, when funding is secured, that we embrace the plan designed by Lawson-Fisher Associates. This design includes a below-water-level viewing chamber to be built between the fish ladder currently in place and the proposed hydroelectric generator. Windows on either side of the chamber allow visitors to observe migrating fish on one side and the generator’s turbines on the other. This design, modeled after one of the most popular tourist attractions in Seattle, has the potential to draw hundreds of visitors to downtown South Bend, including families and schoolchildren, year-round.

Secondly, when the generator and viewing chamber are approved, I would like to suggest an homage to this area’s previous inhabitants, the Potwatomi, who traveled on and were sustained by the river that runs through us. They called the river Sheggwe. Bestowing this name on the river viewing chamber seems a fitting tribute to those who came before us as we embrace the gifts of power and life she can give us now.

I look forward to working with you and other officials on this project.